Combining Phrasing techniques together, to make your solos really exciting


Would you like to make your solo guitar playing and improvisations sound really awesome? I’m sure you would! There are many different ways in which you can improve your lead guitar playing, to sound better and enjoy yourself much more and feel fulfilled when playing guitar.


What I am going to show you today, is how you can make your playing sound more exciting and expressive, by combining various phrasing techniques together. There are many ways to approach this and here are my favorite combinations:


  1. String bendings and rakes:


To add a lot of strength and power to your bendings, you can play a rake in front of it. For those who are unfamiliar with this concept, “rakes” are played by muting the strings lower to the string you want to bend with your palm and hitting all of them at once with your pick, so that only your “target string” (the one you want to bend) rings out clearly. Once the “target string” rings out, you can now apply a string bend on it.


  1. String bendings and vibrato:


These two techniques combined, result into a very exciting sound and can give your guitar playing a very unique “vibe”, since string bendings and vibrato vary a lot between different players. So by combining those two, you can put your own stamp on a song or solo.


There is no right or wrong way in executing a string bending and playing a vibrato on top of it, it all comes down to your personal taste. So you might experiment and try out a great variety in combing these two techniques, for example playing the bending and the following vibrato at faster or slower speeds, or making wider or more narrow motions when playing the vibrato. You can also use various bending techniques up front the vibrato, such as a bend-release-bend bending as you can see in the example below:



  1. String bendings and slides:


Another way to make your string bendings more interesting, is to add a slide as grace note before you play the actual string bending. You do this by sliding from one or two frets lower right into the fret you want to play the string bending and apply it immediately. For an example of how to do this, see the video below:



  1. Vibrato and pinch harmonics:


This combination gives your vibrato a screaming sound. If you haven’t played pinch harmonics before, you get them by hitting the string you want to play and than touching it slightly with your picking hand’s thumb afterwards. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t get the harmonic right away, it takes a bit of patience and practice to get it right. But it is worth the effort, considering the very cool sound you get in reward. Applying a vibrato on it afterwards makes it even more awesome!


Now it is your turn! Take the concepts I have given you in this article and apply them to your own guitar playing, by integrating them into your own licks. The next step is to come up with your own combinations of phrasing techniques, there are a lot more for you to explore than I have covered here, for example you can combine legato techniques together with tapping, or tapping with string bendings. My purpose was to get you started on this topic, now go ahead and be creative with your own combinations!


This article was created by guitar instructor Marco von Baumbach, based in Wuppertal, Germany. To find out more about him, check out his website about Gitarrenunterricht in Wuppertal